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Towards a general ontology for describing processes, events, and stories / narratives

The paper gives an overview of ontologies, models, and frameworks for describing processes and events, starting with general process ontologies and story grammars and then moving to process ontologies across many areas: Technical/manufacturing processes, physical processes,  chemical processes, biological processes, disease processes, psychological processes, learning and sensemaking processes, decision making processes, business processes, processes in society, and finally ontologies of historical and current events both in the large, as in news, and in the small, as in family history and genealogy. This overview includes some examples. The paper then proposes and illustrates a method for analyzing ontologies from these areas to find (1) underlying common principles and (2) features unique to the individual areas. This method could be used to arrive at a general ontology of processes and events with many domain-specific extensions. Such an ontology would support systems for storing and retrieving information about processes and events, especially cross-domain searches. It would also contribute  to systematic thinking about processes and events. The purpose of a process ontology is to enable systematic formal description of processes and events. More specifically, the following distinctions clarify what exactly is described:

Process pattern

            Designed process pattern, plan

            Hypothesized process pattern

            Process pattern abstracted from observation

Event. Process pattern instantiated in real or fictitious space and time

            Real event. More precisely: Event alleged to be real

            Fictitious event

Narrative, story. A text describing a process pattern or an event

The paper covers CDOC CRM, a rich and detailed ontology around events.


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